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Why a dedicated server?

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September 22, 2011 9:17:44 AM

I want to centralize our files which my colleagues access frequntly in the office?

For this purpose, I am using and old laptop dedicated for this job. Nowadays I am thinking of achizition of a server. But I dont know If I buy a new server, this will provide me with some performance and security in plus?
Should I really replaceour old laptop with a new server?

Here is the link for the server which I am plannig to buy.


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September 22, 2011 1:12:17 PM

If the old laptop meets your needs, you're probably fine with the old laptop and could likely upgrade to a new laptop or desktop, or even a NAS.

If you have a lot of users and managing those users and security rights has become cumbersome, then maybe it is time to upgrade to a server.
September 23, 2011 8:20:59 PM

What is the specs on the laptop?

With that server your are planning to buy, you could setup a RAID array, So your data is safer from being lost in a hardware faller.
But you could easily setup a external hard drive that will backup the laptop every night or use an online backup. with the laptop.
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September 24, 2011 2:17:55 AM

Catsrules said:

With that server your are planning to buy, you could setup a RAID array, So your data is safer from being lost in a hardware faller.
But you could easily setup a external hard drive that will backup the laptop every night or use an online backup. with the laptop.


This^^

If the data you're storing is important, you need to make sure it is secure. You will need RAID(or ZFS) and a good back-up plan.

I've heard horror stories of multi-million dollar companies that had their data go bad and they lost everything. Closed shop over night.
September 24, 2011 2:28:20 AM

IMHO: I don't know if a server is necessary just to share files. You can get by with other solutions, such as sharing on your laptop or using a NAS.

There are lots of decisions involved with deciding on a server. You may want to look at my page on this at and some of the other related pages. You may also get a kick out of reading other peoples solutions posted at the bottom of the page at .

The comment on backup is very accurate... make sure you do it. You may want to consider cloud backup as an easy way to achieve this.

-Mike
October 5, 2011 3:03:47 PM

I do agree with the first person that if the laptop is still supporting your needs for access and speed then why upgrade? If you do think it is a smart move to upgrade to a sever then i would suggest a HP H8t at http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/computer_series.do?storeName=computer_store&category=desktops&series_name=h8t_series&a1=Category&v1=High%20performance as it will be cheaper even if you put in all 6TB of disk space it will still only be $1,539.99 compared to the $2,000+ sever which you found and this computer has better parts from what HP lists.
Again if you do not need to upgrade from using the laptop as the server why upgrade?
October 7, 2011 2:59:42 AM

why upgrade?
October 7, 2011 3:28:48 AM

mrtblt said:
I want to centralize our files which my colleagues access frequntly in the office?

For this purpose, I am using and old laptop dedicated for this job. Nowadays I am thinking of achizition of a server. But I dont know If I buy a new server, this will provide me with some performance and security in plus?
Should I really replaceour old laptop with a new server?

Here is the link for the server which I am plannig to buy.




Ok as an enterprise admin I'll walk you through this.

Firstly, how much is this data worth? As in create a dollar value of what it would take to reproduce it and how much revenue that data is responsible for. This will give you a good idea on how much you should spend and what level of protection you should apply to it. More levels of protection equal most costs, both direct and indirect.

Next based on your previous determination, is it financially worth it to have a dedicated system? Almost invariably if your talking about a business then the answer is yes. The exact system you decide to purchase will depend on how much availability you want it to provide (redundant PSU / HDD / ect..) and how many clients it will be servicing. The rule of thumb is that a client OS is good for up to 10 simultaneous connections, anything more will require a dedicated server OS. Either NT or a Unix variant (Linux / Solaris / BSD). You can get by with as little as 1~2GB of memory if your just servicing a dozen or less clients. What counts is the HDD availability.

Which brings me to the big point. Absolutely ignore the peanut gallery here. The value of that data will dictate the level of redundancy and storage you use. If your making it to this part then you've already determined that the data is revenue generating data or otherwise high value data and should be protected. In this case under no circumstance should you use software based "fake" RAID. Things like ZFS or Windows RAID are fine, but anything relying on a software driver for a motherboard / HBA is absolutely out of the picture, and here is why.

When doing building your disaster recovery kit (DRK) you will need to go over potential disaster scenarios. One of which is that the system is smoked but the HDDs survive. "Fake RAID" relies on controller specific logic to organize and create the logical volume. The format used is propriety and controller specific. To access your data you will need an exact copy of whatever board / HBA you used in the first place. Seeing that the original board is smoked this means you'll be ordering a new one and waiting for it to arrive. If your using read HW raid via an actual server HBA, then you can remove the HBA and use it in your temp system. Also most HW RAID HBA venders will provide you with a software tool to reconstruct your RAID data from raw disks in case the HBA itself got smoked, rarely will you get this for a "fake RAID" device. If your using something like ZFS / Windows RAID then just connecting the drives to a new system and importing them will yield immediate access to your data.

And absolutely never purchase a "NAS" device. Those are just mini PC's running a customized Linux OS that share out their disks. They lack redundant features and have horrible performance compared to a real server. If your going to be spending money on this, might as well do it right and get a real system.

For a recommendation, a good middle ground device is one of the ProRAID enclosures from mediasonic.

http://ain.mediasonic.ca/store/product_info.php?cPath=2...

$200 USD for a four bay external enclosure that supports eSATA and USB 3. The enclosure does it's own HW RAID processing and doesn't require a software driver, it's real RAID not "fake raid". The enclosure it detachable so if the system ever goes up in smoke you can just plug it into a laptop and your data is accessible again. It supports eSATA for fast access speeds and USB for the aforementioned disaster scenario. I'd recommend against sharing out a FS via USB, there are some serious latency issues involved. Another advantage is depending on your current laptop and how fast you need this data, you can just connect it to the laptop and share it out that way. Load a server OS onto the laptop, something like NT Small business server or use something like CentOS instead.

And for what it's worth, this is what I'm using at my home. I built my own Mini-ITX server and have one of these connected to it via eSATA. I share out the file system to all devices in my home and use it as a centralized file server, DNS and AD server.
October 7, 2011 3:39:43 AM

Great post Palladin!

As a Network Admin myself I couldn't agree more with his post. A laptop might be OK for a home network with files that aren't important, but for a business you definitely want to have some form of protection, which can be provided by hardware RAID and backups.

If you value your businesses data, take note of what Palladin has posted!
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